Prosecutors seem to suffer a major blow while closing their production of State’s evidence in the trial of Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) officials, as Criminal Court “C” Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay refuses to admit into evidence essential instruments regarding movement of cash from reserved vault to operational vault.
Following the judge’s decision Tuesday, 21 July at the Temple of Justice, the prosecution announced that it will take advantage of the statute with respect to the court’s denial of the two instruments.
Judge Gbeisay had agreed with defense lawyers on their request not to admit these two instruments into evidence having realized that there was no prosecution’s witness testimony “with respect to the movement of cash from reserved vault to the operational vault or from the operational vault to the reserved vault.”
The government here indicted several CBL officials including the bank’s Board of Governors, accusing them of printing and shipping to Liberia L$13,004,750,000.00 without authorization, and allegedly understating the printed amount as L$10,359,750,000.00, giving a variance of L$2,645,000,000.00.
All the defendants on trial including former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks, David Fahart, Elsie Dossen Bardio and Kollie Tamba have pleaded not guilty for charges of theft of property; economic sabotage; fraud on the internal revenue of Liberia; misuse of public money, property or record; theft or illegal disbursement of public money; criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.
Judge Gbeisay says the prosecution’s witnesses failed to establish the fact in any manner and form, adding that admitting such documents will be contrary to the spirit [of] justice.
“With such a charge [levied] against the defendants, the movement of cash from one vault to another while the defendants were in charge of the CBL, [it’s] very germane and essential fact that this court will need to determine … the guilt or [innocence] of the defendants,” he says.
According to the Judge, the essence of the court is to find the truth, and in finding the truth there ought to be no surprise on the other side.
“The [intent] of the Prosecution testimonies is to give notice to the defense so that the defendant will be able to put out adequate defense to adequately [defend] themselves,” he notes.
After prosecution rests with production of evidence, the court has assigned the next hearing date of this case to 28 July at 9:00AM during which time the defense team is expected to take the stage to present its side of the case.
The CBL officials were indicted for the alleged theft of billions of local currency printed and shipped to Liberia following a series of mass protests that prompted local and international investigation into claims that the money went missing.
Last week former House Speaker Mr. Emmanuel Nuquaye, now Director General at the Liberia Aviation Authority (LAA), testified that no authorization was given the CBL to print additional LD$10 billion.
“As we have clearly established and can be seen by the letter written to the CBL, no authorization was given in the form of a letter to even create a ground for an argument as to the mode of authorization whether through letter or resolution,” he said as State – subpoenaed witness Thursday, 16 July.
The fifth defendant Melisa A. Emeh is said to be out of the bailiwick of Liberia and has not been brought to court, therefore the court has granted prosecution’s request to grant her a separate trial so as to enable the four other defendants that are available to get speedy trial.
This third indictment in the case did not include former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s son Charles E. Sirleaf who served as Deputy CBL Governor for Operations when the financial scandal emerged at the bank, because he was nolleprosequi with prejudice in May this year.
Besides Mr. Sirleaf, the prosecution here also entered a nolleprosequi (dropped charges) in favor of defendants Richard H. Walker, Dorbor M. Hagba and Joseph Dennis.
By Winston W. Parley